By Nora Lowe and Edith Bachmann
The Oracle is an important platform for sharing our ideas. In turbulent times like these, it is our responsibility to use this as a mode to educate and share our thoughts about significant issues.
We are always living through history, but this year certainly marks a turning point. As COVID-19 continues its destructive path, and protests organized by the aggrieved victims of police brutality and systemic racism sweep the nation, many of us are simply in awe. Newspaper headlines scream similar messages each day, but it is essential that we do not become numb to their implications.
The Armonk bubble is an intangible boundary, and nothing more, as shown by how the coronavirus has permeated through our small town.
Peaceful protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement have been organized across Westchester County, as close as Bedford on June 6th, and even in Armonk. On June 9th, the Armonk Faith Alliance hosted a “Candlelight Vigil for America” during which attendees from different faiths prayed for racial justice.
Any observer would have noticed something strikingly clear: the majority of the protesters and attendees were white. The eloquent speakers at the Bedford protest made it clear that “We need our white allies,” and we also need white citizens to acknowledge their privilege.
What is white privilege? The organizer, Sorvina Carr, shared striking stories that are the norm for black communities: being followed into stores, being arrested for vaguely “matching a description,” or having to take two driver’s ed courses–one on how to drive, the other on how to stay alive when interacting with police. White privilege is being able to say that you do not have to cope with this discrimination.
Police brutality is not a foreign concept. The speakers at the Bedford protests pointed to an upsetting example in White Plains. Kenneth Chamberlain, a black man, was fatally shot by police in 2011 who broke into his home. He was 68 years old, and a retired Marine. These injustices happen. Even in Westchester. Even here.
We need to recognize, think about, and decide how to move forward. We need to take action, research, and work to repeal laws that perpetuate these wrongdoings (e.g. Law 50-a).
While it can be overwhelming at times to find ways that you can be an ally and help promote racial justice, there are still plenty of actions you can take that can help make a difference. Aside from attending protests, you can sign petitions that support Black Lives Matter (through Color of Change for example), and you can write to our government officials to advocate for the repealing of laws that hinder the fight for racial justice. Personal change is also important. You can take the Harvard Implicit Bias tests to assess what you personally need to work on and there are several reading lists that spotlight anti-racist books that are worth your time. You can donate to organizations fighting against racial injustice, such as Campaign Zero or Black Lives Matter. You can support black-owned businesses. There’s even a Black Lives Matter section of Netflix with eye-opening documentaries that are a good place to start educating yourself (The 13th is very insightful).
Not having additional burdens based on your race is white privilege, and we need to prevent privilege from bleeding into ignorance by turning a blind eye.
Nora Lowe and Edith Bachmann
Co-Editors in Chief